UCD lab helps investigate fish-protection technology

UCD lab helps investigate fish-protection technology

The Department of Water Resources has partnered with the UC Davis J. Amorocho Hydraulics Laboratory to find innovative ways to investigate fish-protection technology within California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary.

Originally built as a hydraulics lab to perform modeling studies for the State Water Project, the laboratory has been a DWR tool for maintaining and protecting the state’s water supply for more than half a century.

At the helm of the lab, is a team of scientists and engineers who are setting the bar for opportunities made possible by state and regional partnerships, all while inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

‘“The partnership between DWR and UC Davis is a prime example of DWR’s commitment to establishing dialogue among diverse community groups to improve water resilience and job opportunities,” said Cindy Messer, DWR chief deputy director. “It’s just one of the ways we are working with local and regional water leaders to maintain and restore California’s water supply.”

“The partnership with DWR allows us to keep learning,” said Kara Carr, the lab’s lead engineer. “Collaboration means work for us here and now, so we can pave the way and lay the foundation for our future scientists and engineers.”

The joint-venture has played an essential role in creating job opportunities, particularly for women in STEM disciplines. This is especially important considering that just one-third of all female students choose STEM-related fields in higher education, according to the United Nations Scientific Education and Cultural Organization.

“The partnership with DWR allowed me, and many women after me, to advance in the field,” said Carr. “When it comes to women in STEM, we’ve been pushing and pushing, and these are the results. Women are the majority here.”

Carr and her team of researchers, engineers, and biologists are working on a $3.1 million project studying the behaviors and swimming patterns of juvenile green sturgeon. Green sturgeon, a threatened fish species native to the Delta, have been disappearing from California waterways in record numbers in recent decades. Carr and her team have been working on the study since 2015 to find out why.

The study, funded by DWR, aims to improve the survival rates of juvenile green sturgeon by gaining a deeper understanding of the impacts on the species including water diversions and predation by other fish in the Delta.

By Special to The Enterprise